The honey bee is a relatively modern species, fossil records indicate that it originated in Southeast Asia about a million years ago.
Honey bees have extraordinary olfactory abilities that allow them to communicate by smell and search for food. They can sense the difference between different varieties of flowers and tell which individual flowers are filled with pollen. The Department of Homeland Security uses honey bees’ extraordinary sense of smell to detect bombs and explosive materials.
Honey bees are not native to the New World and were brought to the Western Hemisphere by American colonists in the early 1600s to pollinate European fruit bearing trees. There are many other bee species native to the New World, but they have much smaller hives and make much less honey.
Honey bees can fly up to 15 mph and can travel as far as five to six miles.
A worker bee over her lifespan can produce about 1/12th teaspoon of honey.
There are three types of bees: workers, drones and the queen.
Worker bees are female and live for about 6 weeks, they raise the young, gather the pollen, make the honey and make the wax for the honeycomb.
Male honey bees (drones) mate with the queen and die. They have no stingers.
Queen bees can live up to 5 years and lay up to 2,500 eggs per day. Most of the eggs are laid during the summer months when the hive is at its strongest.
Only female bees (workers) have stingers that they use when they feel the hive is threatened.
Worker bees stingers are barbed and pull out of the bees body after the bee stings with it, killing the bee. Queen bees also have a stinger that is not barbed, but they never use them.
Honey bees use a dancing motion to indicate the direction of food sources of pollen to other members of the hive.
In the winter, honey bees feed off the honey that they gathered during the summer. The workers use their body heat to keep the queen warm during the cold weather.